Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling is the primary wrestling promotion based around the Dragon System developed by Ultimo Dragon. Formally Toryumon Japan, it stayed behind after Ultimo Dragon left and took the Toryumon name and rights with him in 2004 to be reborn as an independent wrestling promotion. They have grown into becoming one of the elite promotions in Japan, running roughly 250 shows a year and airing a series of pay-per-view events annually. In addition to their growing following in Japan, they have developed a cult following around the world, leading to tours in Europe and the development of a sister promotion in the United States called Dragon Gate USA.
In early June 2004, it was announced that Ultimo Dragon, who had just returned from a one-year stint with World Wrestling Entertainment, was leaving the Toryumon Japan promotion and taking the Toryumon name since he owned the rights. The last show promoted under the Toryumon name would take place at the fifth anniversary show "Vo Aniversario" at Kobe World Hall in Hyogo on July 4. Takashi Okamura, who was serving as Director of Toryumon Japan while Ultimo was in WWE, then announced that the promotion would continue on independently as Dragon Gate.
Naming the promotion Dragon Gate was itself taking from the meaning behind the word Toryumon itself. The word was coined after the homonym that roughly translated as climbing up dragon gate, which itself meant gateway to success.
Following the split, Dragon Gate immediately went to work, launching the Every Day Pro Wrestling project. As part of the Fuji Television "Adventure King" attraction in Tokyo, Dragon Gate wrestlers would wrestle two shows per day throughout July and August, often having roughly two or three matches per show. They would hold the larger scale "Premium" shows once a week during this period. The project was a success as it brought in new fans to Dragon Gate and wrestling in general. They would hold a second in 2005, which further increased the fanbase.
The promotion reached a very intriguing predicament by the end of 2004 and going into the start of 2005 as several keys wrestlers left, either by their own accord or by being fired. Those gone were Milano Collection AT, SUWA, TARU, and the entire Aagan Iisou unit, the latter group having been the main heels of the promotion. Furthermore, the highly popular and revolutionary Crazy MAX unit had folded due to SUWA's departure. Following an awkward period in the month of January in 2005, company ace CIMA would turn heel and start a whole new unit in Blood Generation that would get the promotion back on track.
2005 also saw the foundations for expansion outside of Japan, a very ambitious concept for a company that was barely a year into its independent existence. CIMA, along with first Dragon Gate trueborn Shingo Takagi, traveled to the United States in August to wrestle in Ring of Honor. In November, they ran a show in Kanan, China that drew 3,500 attendance, setting into motion for plans to run shows in the United States and South Korea. Also in November, Mexican gaijin Vangelis and King Shisa, who would later be revealed to be Pentagon Black, appeared in Dragon Gate and were followed in December by American gaijin Jack Evans and Roderick Strong. This would set the tone for the promotion, previously under isolationist principles for the most part, opening their doors to outside talent from 2006 onward.
Dragon Gate would send talent to Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in 2006 where they immediately won the hearts of American fans, through which produced the legendary Blood Generation vs. Do FIXER six-man tag team match on March 31, 2006 in Chicago Ridge, Illinois that won acclaimed and earned Match of the Year honors of the Wrestling Observer as well as a prestigious five-star rating from its chief editor Dave Meltzer. In addition, Dragon Gate would a series of events called WrestleJAM, bringing together wrestlers from Japan, America, and Mexico to celebrate and showcase their in-ring styles.
CIMA announced at the end of a PWG show on January 6, 2008 in Van Nuys, California that Dragon Gate would be running their first US show in Los Angeles later that year. It would take place on September 5, 2008 in Bell Gardens, which they followed with a show in Waikiki, Hawaii the next day. This would lay the groundwork for the launch of Dragon Gate USA the following year.
Despite a very unfortunate incident that was made public in mid-2009, Dragon Gate continued to grow stronger than ever with increasing fanbases in Japan and now the United States following the first Dragon Gate USA show on July 25 in the former ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Furthermore, they ran the first of what would become annual visits to Europe, in particular the United Kingdom, in October and November.
Dragon Gate NEX
In mid-2006, the NEX project was announced. It would be a series of shows and events that would focus primarily on the recent graduates of the Dragon Gate Dojo, allowing for them to further gain experience in ability while also being seen as the main attraction of a show. Virtually all of the shows take place in the Dragon Gate Arena, the main training ring at the Dragon Gate offices in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan.
In addition to the recent graduates, comedy characters, gaijin talent, and any freelance wrestler currently on tour in Japan will also compete on these shows. The occasional main card member of the roster will compete as well. This is done to further enhance the experience to be gained for the trainees and teach the outsiders how to compete in the Dragon System of wrestling.
The vast majority of NEX shows are called "Sancutary" and are held twice a month. They generally draw an attendance of around 90 fans due to the limited size and space of the venue. There are also special event shows called "Premium," which are the equivalent in atmosphere to a pay-per-view. These shows involve the main card members of the roster and will draw up to 100 in attendance. Early in NEX, they ran two anniversary shows at Shin-Kiba 1st RING in Tokyo, Japan, although this has since been discontinued.
Since the promotion first started running independently in 2004, Dragon Gate has functioned on having the vast majority of its roster aligned to one faction or another. There are generally multiple factions active at one time.
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Date won|
|Open the Dream Gate||YAMATO||July 24th, 2016|
|Open the Triangle Gate||Monster Express|
(Akira Tozawa, Masato Yoshino and T-Hawk)
|December 6, 2015|
|Open the Brave Gate||Eita||July 24th, 2016|
|Open the Twin Gate||Jimmyz|
(Jimmy Kagetora and Jimmy Susumu)
|June 19, 2016|
|Open the Owarai Gate||"Hollywood" Stalker Ichikawa||April 10, 2016|
|Championship||Last Champion(s)||Date Won||Notes|
|I-J Heavyweight Tag Team Championship||Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi||October 12, 2007||Unified with Open The Twin Gate Championship on October 12, 2007|
|Open the Owarai Twin Gate Championship||Don Fujii and Kikutaro||April 12, 2009||Has seemingly been forgotten about after its first appearance|
|Tournament||Last winner||Last held|
|King of Gate||YAMATO||June 12, 2016|
|Summer Adventure Tag League Tournament||Jimmyz|
(Jimmy K-ness J.K.S. and Jimmy Susumu)
|September 27, 2015|
|Promotion name||Location||Partnered on||Ref.||Notes|
|Dragon Gate USA||USA||2009||Closed in 2015|
|Dragon Gate UK||United Kingdom||2009||Still active|